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  • Symphonic Organs



    The link is to an article by Jack Bethards discussing various aspects of organ design for expression and versatile use. He makes a strong case for expressive, musical playing of a wide range of literature.



    http://www.thediapason.com/dp/index.cfm?fuseaction=showArticle&articleID=6284&le arnMore=yes&CFID=10711708&CFTOKEN=30077871



    My organ is of a symphonic design from the early 1900's. I find that it has a wide variety of effects possible, it is never boring. The resurgence of new organs that can play a wide variety of music and have great beauty of sound can help to make organs popular again (at least more relevant) as they once were in the early part of the 20th century. I think that the Schoenstein Company is on the right track.



    http://www.schoenstein.com/




  • #2
    Re: Symphonic Organs

    great link thanks!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Symphonic Organs



      ***BANGS HEAD AGAINST KEYBOARD***



      [8-)]

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Symphonic Organs

        [quote user="buzzyreed"]

        ***BANGS HEAD AGAINST KEYBOARD***






        [/quote]





        ? [:S]

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Symphonic Organs

          I'm glad to see Schoenstein finally has something on their website. For a long time they didn't have anything on there at all.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Symphonic Organs

            [quote user="soundboarddude"]I'm glad to see Schoenstein finally has something on their website. For a long time they didn't have anything on there at all.
            [/quote]

            That was delliberate.  Bethards has said does not like computers (he has actually said in lectures that he "hates them") and I suspect deliberately avoided having a website or email for that reason.  He also does not exhibit at AGO functions.

            I will say that after reviewing his work and attending lectures he has given, Bethards has some very well thought out ideas about organbuilding and tonal design. Recent installations I have seen were suitably impressive.  I have referenced his writing on multim in parvo here before.

            Shoenstein will  be building new organs in NYC for St. James Madison Ave., and Christ & St. Stephen's. 

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Symphonic Organs -- Ken Cowan, young, symphonic organist




              I am so encouraged in the last couple of years to discover a younger generation of organ phenoms that are not only playing the organs of the world well, but indeed, seem to be reviving the very best of what organ playing is all about. In particular, these young artists are executing the 'standard literature' with great maturity of interpretation and understanding, but also, many of them are embracing literature, both from organ (and non-organ) composition, that could best be described as 'symphonic' in nature.




              Such is the case with Ken Cowan, Acting Assistant Professor of Organ at Westminster Choir College. He is a former pupil of Thomas Murray of Yale University, and has obviously had his share of time working on, and over the great Woolsey Hall Skinner Organ there. The result from this young artist is music playing that stirs the very soul, releasing human expression such as we have not heard in more than a generation or two.




              I have heard him on a number of occasions, and every time am just amazed at the depth of understanding of some very sophisticated musical compositions, and how he is able to bring off this music in some very unlikely settings. He takes the resources set before him from any particular organ registration, and turns it into pure music.He has such command of each work that he plays (memorized, of course), presenting well-balanced programs with musical interests for a wide range of eager listeners.




              Did I mention transcriptions from other musical sources??? He is a master already (in his early 30's) of 'borrowing' from piano and orchestral scores, bringing them alive, and with a new freshness to organ venues.Realizing that this older practice from days gone by was largelymotivated by the fact that many people did not get to hear such works (especially thesymphonic ones) first hand, so the organist was providing a vicarious rendering of some great music, just so it could be heard. However, the idea of borrowing from one musical source and playing in another has been a practice for a very long time, and done correctly, and with artistry, have produced some amazing results -- legitimate in their own rights, and when done with a flair of genius, havebrought a whole new expression of musical delight usingthe new musical setting.




              And don't kid yourself that is no small task, considering some of the organs performers have to play on these days. That is not to say that every organ can be miraculously changed into a 'real musical instrument'. I have heard so many of the newer instruments over the last 30 years or so, that just leave me cold as to 'music making'. Yes, they may allow you to register well,particular periods of organ literature, but once the registering is done, and the music is played, the basic sound of the instruments leaves me just plain flat, with nothing stirring my musical sensibilities, much less human emotions.




              Some hope in this regard is found ininstruments that are bringing back the true symphonic quality of sound. Case in point might be some of the extraordinary (and yes, controversial) work exhibited inJack Bethards' Schoenstein instruments, whichhave the capacity to stir those human expressions that so many of us desire. And yes, not everyone who might play one of these new generation, symphonic instruments can bring that off. I'm sure in the hands of the wrong player, these instruments would surely not render anything close to a pleasing musical result. It takes a master of musical conceptualizing to bring these instruments alive, not unlike what is required from a great symphonic composer and [consequential] conductor.




              In that regard, I'd like to recommend anew recording of the Schoenstein Organ in Lincoln, NE (1997) that is one of the finest examples of that which I speak to make it onto recording media. It is by this same talented, Ken Cowan, and is called, "Ken Cowan Plays Romantic Masterworks' -- on the Raven CD label. You've got to hear this outstanding playing and recording. He uses every wonderfully musical resource on the 110 rank Schoenstein to absolutely the best advantage in bringing off these great 19th century compositions. I truly believe the rendering of the Reubke 'Sonata, on Psalm 94' is one of the best ever recorded, showing its true symphonic possibilities. It is a definitive match up of composer, performer, organ and engineering achievement. [Obviously, my humble opinion.]




              The basic reason one would come to want to put this CD in their player and commit to listening, wouldsurely beof a desire to experience, in the highest sense of the phrase, true and unadulterated, soul-stirringmusic.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Symphonic Organs -- Ken Cowan, young, symphonic organist



                An excellent post, I agree completely. The type of organs popular with organists from the 1970's and 1980's definitely are limiting. It seems that times are changing and there is a return to musical sounding organs. I hope this trend continues. If so, possibly organ music could become more popular with non-organists.




                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Symphonic Organs



                  I don't know I agree about Schoennstein...I've had experiences with only one of their instruments, and I was underawed. I saw it taken through its paces by the lovely Diane Bish (who made it sound better, I suspect, than it would have if it were me up there exercising it [:D]); it was a 44-rank, and, frankly, though I'm in no way what you'd call an expert in tonal philosophy, I have some questions...okay, they're more like accusations and whining, but still. The full organ sounded underpowered, it had an antiphonal the size of the great (which probably would have sounded better distributed...to the Great?) and, funnily enough, it only had two 16' reeds (one native to the pedal), one of which was a Fagott drawn from the swell, and the other...well, it was an Ophicleide. On a 44-rank, three-manual. Note that this is in a medium-small Methodist sanctuary. The console was covered in so much expensive cured oak and gold trim (and, funnily enough, it looks like unpleasance from the audience's perspective) it looks like they could have afforded a nice Bombarde division to add some color and power (and, more importantly, a more appropriate bass reed) to the full organ and solo voices with what they spent making the console look attractive at close range. I liked its diapason chorus, but honestly everything else seemed more suited to what you'd install in a symphony hall for accompanying an orchestra (which would be hard to fit into the nave; besides, how many churches do you know that keep a standing orchestra for worship?) So, maybe somebody else can tell me I'm wrong? I'm trying not to burn Schoennstein too heavily, but considering we're talking an instrument that probably ran upwards of seven figures and a year or more in time spent in building/installation, I'm not too enthralled. 



                   



                  Admittedly, I'm also sixteen, unemployed and still a very mediocre pianist, but I have spent ungodly amounts of time looking things like this up... D: 



                   



                  Also, the 70s-80s were our Dark Ages. They stank. I think we're throwing out...two(?) of them in Ann Arbor alone...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Symphonic Organs -- Ken Cowan, young, symphonic organist



                    Hi,



                    This is my first posting on the organ forum, so I'd like to say hello to all those in this thread.



                    I'm a long time OHS member, I worked for a few years in the early 60's for a builder in Westchester County, NY (Angell), but now am retired from the computer field. I'm not an organist, but have loved the instrument since childhood. I also love the Theater Organ, bought my first George Wright recording back about 1956[:|]



                    I have always felt the pendulum would swing back. It is so gratifying to see young artists like Ken Cowan "packing them in"[Y] and so many historic instruments being restored.



                    I had the privledge of hearing Ken Cowan play for the first time just last summer in Portland, ME, on the "Mighty Kochmar", well worth the 3 hour ride from Vermont over to Portland, luckily I have free digs (family) in the area.



                    While in High School, my organ friends and I were infuenced by some very fine organists that were more inclined to a more romantic approach to organ playing. One was the late L. C. Brunn, a Purvis student, who presided over the sumptuous 139 rk 1930 Austin in "Old First Church" Newark, NJ.
                    Also at that time the largest Schantz (Sacred Heart Cathedral) was presided over by the late James Philip Johnston, a gentleman of the old school, a kinder and gentler soul, not to be forgotten by those who knew him.



                    Well I've rambled on enough about myself.



                    Regards to all,



                    Pete

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Symphonic Organs -- Ken Cowan, young, symphonic organist

                      Pete, glad to have you on the Forum. Dig in and enjoy the fun!
                      Mike

                      My home organ is a Theatre III with an MDS II MIDI Expander.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Symphonic Organs -- Ken Cowan, young, symphonic organist



                        Mike,



                        Thank you for the kind welcome.



                        I have been enjoying lurking around for a while, there is more to learn by listening to others input, especially when there seems to be some very knowledgeable, interesting and polite posters on these forums.



                        Regards,



                        Pete

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Symphonic Organs



                          Could someone please define "Symphonic Organs."




                          Is it organs suitable for use with a symphony, or is it organs capable of producing a symphony of sounds?[:^)] [scratches head] Thanks in advance.




                          Michael

                          Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                          • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                          • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                          • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Symphonic Organs



                            I think of a Symphonic Organ as one capable of playing an organ symphony. [8-|] I'm thinking of lateC-C organs and symphonies of Widor and Vierne. The plenum is built up from a classical foundation.




                            Then there is the Orchestral Organ. These are really immense instruments andmay have very high wind pressures and multiple expressions; the emphasis is more on8' stops. I think of the Wanamaker and Atlantic City organs.




                            For organs suitable for use with a symphony orchestra... I just call them "concert hall organs". [8-|]

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Symphonic Organs

                              Organs build at emormous expenses often in inconvenient places, that are huge, have only stops equal or larger than 8', are invariably loud and can be used to play a handful of organ symphonies. Apart from those 5-6 pieces they are not suitable for musical expression and as such are mostly covered in a thick layer of dust. About 80% of them are dismantled or laid-up and only the facade stays in place with everybody thinking that there is a huge instrument available while in reality it can even play a single note.

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